That Question.

Do you have any children?

The question I have been dreading being asked for four months now.

My husband and I are sat in a room with bright, budding professionals in their late twenties to early thirties, most of them single. We have often made the joke that we are old, young people. We are 26 and 27, married, own our home, have a puppy and we have also had a child but you can't see him.

I have been thinking for a while how to respond to this question. It is one of those casual opening questions at networking events. They typically have two replies, either a simple no or a yes followed by lashings of love and memories for their little ones.

The question was asked and as my husband calmly recalled a 'not yet', I had already had a full discussion in my head. How do I answer this? If I say no: I am dismissing his existence, I am not giving him a voice, I am lying, I am declining to acknowledge one of the people I love the most.

If I say yes: I am making a stranger feel uncomfortable, I am opening up awkwardness for the rest of the night, I am risking upsetting myself further.

My husband answered with a hushed, 'not yet' and I looked away, tears welling up in my eyes, realising that this was a conversation we had never had. How do we answer that question? How do we shield someone that was asking a harmless question? How do we ensure that our lifetime of unease around this question doesn't make someone else feel bad? Who do we choose to let in on this journey?

The honest answer is that I still don't know how to answer this and I'm fairly sure that you may not be able to either. In my opinion, there is no real way to answer this and in whichever way we answer it, someone gets stung, whether that be the person asking or us trying to answer it with all of these things going around our heads.

I really grappled with this question and I still do, but I want you to know that there really is no right answer to this question and if we do answer falsely to allow someone else to feel better, nothing can deny the permanence of your child.

Grief is taboo in society, in all of its forms. Though, if someone asked me if I had a Grandfather, I would say yes, but they are no longer living or yes, I had two Grandfather's so why am I so uncomfortable to say, yes I had a son but we lost him in pregnancy?

I can't answer these questions, but I do know that my sweet boy is with me wherever I go and that I wouldn't be where I am today without him. He transformed my life for the better and I would voluntarily walk through the hurricane again, just to meet him.

So today, when someone asks you if you have any children and you don't know how to respond, know that the question has always been answered. You are a mother, you are a father, you are a grandparent, you are a friend.


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